OWL banquet set for Sept. 3
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Anthony Grant participated in the 2009 Ultimate Adventure OWL Deer Hunt in Pike County without any great expectations. But, it was an experience that changed his life.
“I had never experienced life through the eyes of a disabled person,” he said. “I took getting up in the morning, getting dressed and going to work for granted. I don’t do that anymore. I realize how fortunate I am to be able to do something so seemingly simple as getting out of bed and walking across the floor. The Ultimate Adventure really changed the way that I look at things – at life.”
Grant was one of a hundred plus volunteers who made the first deer hunt sponsored by the Pike County Chapter of Outdoors Without Limits (OWL) a great success.
“The hunt was the largest deer hunt for people with disabilities in the United States,” Grant said. “We expect the 2010 Ultimate Adventure to be even bigger with about 120 hunters.”
For a hunt of that magnitude for hunters with all kinds of disabilities, the need for volunteers in great.
“For each hunter, we need a guide for each hunter, land to hunt and volunteers to help prepare and serve the food for the three day event, Jan. 14-17, 2010, and we’ll also need some bottle washers and go-fers.”
Grant said the opportunities for involvement are many and the rewards are great.
“I don’t know of anybody that volunteered with the 2009Ultimate Adventure that didn’t get a whole lot more in return than they gave,” he said.
“For me, it was a heart-warming experience and a life changing one. I wouldn’t take anything for it.”
OWL missions reach out to people of all ages and abilities.
“And we had people of all ages –men and women and children,” Grant said.
“We had hunters who were paraplegics, quadriplegics and hunters that had lost both legs. We had hunters who were blind and one man was dying with multiple sclerosis.
“One little fellow that stole the heart of everyone there was from Southeast Alabama. We called him ‘Little Man.’ He has spina bifida and was confined to a wheelchair, but he was always upbeat and excited to get to go hunting. It was his first time, and he harvested a deer. You’ve never seen such a happy little boy.”
Grant was the guide for a Vietnam veteran who was shot in back and can only move his arms.
“It was a major effort for him to get out of bed and maneuver himself into a chair,” Grant said.
“He told me that he almost didn’t come on the hunt because he would be so much trouble. He said ‘Who would want to fool with an old vet that can’t help himself.’ But something kept telling him to come, and he said it was an uplifting experience.”
The veteran couldn’t understand why anybody would take up time with him and show him so much attention and care.
“I ain’t used to this.”
Grant helped the veteran get to the hunt site and then pushed him in the wheelchair about 100 yards to the blind from which he was to hunt.
He got him set up and helped him sight the gun and then left it up to him.
“I saw the deer. He sighted it and pulled the trigger,” Grant said.
“He didn’t think he hit the deer, but he did. I pushed him out to it.
“Harvesting a deer was something he never thought he would experience. He said the hunt was the best experience he’d ever had and that we had been as good to him as his own family.”
Not every hunter will harvest a deer, but that’s not the most important thing. What’s most important is the opportunity to be in the great outdoors, do something that was thought to be impossibility and to enjoy the fellowship that comes from participating in an OWL event.
On Sunday morning, we’ll have a church service and some of the hunters will tell what the hunt has meant to them and there won’t be a dry eye in the house,” Grant said.
The opportunity to be a volunteer with the 2010 Ultimate Adventure is open to all who want to do something special for others.
For more information, call Mike Swindall, 566-8353, Terry McPherson, 372-7334 or Greg Ricks, 566-5463